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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Superman Gained the Ability to Shoot a Mini-Superman Out of His Hands

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we look at the time Jerry Coleman, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye decided to give Superman an…interesting new power in Superman #125′s “Superman’s New Power!” from 1958…

The story opens with Superman fixing some Earthquake problems Metropolis was having. While down there, he discovers a spaceship…

newpower1

Sort of serves him right for wanting to turn everything into a memento. It’s interesting how quickly they jumped ahead in time.

So Superman takes on the crooks but has a problem…

newpower2

It is interesting that he lost all of his super-powers…except invulnerability for whatever reason. The rest of the page amusingly teases the new power until we finally discover it…

newpower3

As weird as his new power is, it is even weirder how he is so JEALOUS of the darned little guy!!

newpower4

You have to love Superman’s thought process “CUTE?!? What nonsense!”

Superman is so distraught that he pulls a total dick move, he tries to KILL the damned thing!!!

newpower5

newpower6

That was one weird ending.

That’s it for this week! If you have a suggestion for a strange comic book story, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

65 Comments

Jesus christ, and they called it golden age of comics.

Holy Freud Batman!

“Golden Age” nothing this was Pure “Silver Age” Baby! HA! Interesting that Grant Morrison didn’t pull this one out and try to rework it(I might’ve kept on reading “New 52″ Action Comics if he did).

Diarra, Grant Morrison did an homage to this issue in All-Star Superman. At one point when he is tying up loose ends before dying, he sends out a group of Kandorian doctors to save sick children. They are shown flying away from his outstretched hand.

“It is interesting that he lost all of his super-powers…except vulnerability for whatever reason. ”

Now, that is a fantastic superpower! I wish I could be vulnerable! :) (Gotta love typos!)

Thanks for the pick-up, Jon! I fixed it!

I suppose it could be a no-prize… I mean, what with the Super-dickery, vulnerability WOULD be a superpower for him!

ok my bad, silver age, but still… it was indeed creepy strange. I don’t think you can find something weirder than this.

Love the top of page 7. Superman walking away from a guy with a fake beard (I think) who has one arm tied to a lamppost.
Y’know what, Superman? Maybe you don’t try to explain that one…

Gotta love that Wayne Boring trademark sideways Superman, and the expository thought balloons.

omg knew some of the old early super man comics were weird but supes not only producing a minature alien of himself with his powers only to have it die for him and him not bothering to ever wonder if maybe the thing was really sentient. talk about really nuts for the golden age. not to mention super man trying to kill the little guy out of jeleousy

Miniature Superman aside, where did that kryptonite catapult come from? Is that something generally found in Metropolis?

P. Boz! Jeez, what’s wrong with you? Everyone *knows* it comes from the roof of the catapult factory in Gotham City!

Funny, I’ve always liked this one precisely because of Superman’s resentment at becoming sidekick to a little miniature duplicate. An unusually human reaction for those days.
But yes, retaining his invulnerability makes no sense except for plot convenience.

Fraser,
Superman touches a space ship. This gives him the ability to fire a miniature Superman from his hands.

And Superman retaining his invulnerability is the part that strikes you as making no sense….?

A day in the life of Lex.

At first I thought the second panel w as superman throwing a sweet flying kick.

Pack, you find getting super-powers–or a new super-power–from a spaceship strange? In the DCU? Or the MU for that matter. That’s not strange, that’s Tuesday.

Fraser,
You win.

PS – Reminds me of a great Dwayne McDuffie line from one of the early Damage Control series. The construction foreman calls for more men to help out at the site because one of the workers touched something and gained superpowers. Without missing a beat, he says, “We’re gonna need more workers. One of my guys just had an origin here.”

are you giving away a major plot point…..?!
tiny supermen can only mean bottle of kandor people hiding on supes?

This is pretty weird, but I think they could have gone weirder. Wouldn’t it be great if *Batman* had the ability to fire a little Batman-self from his hands? They could just stand there and brood together.

Totally with you on Damage Control, Pack. The sequence with the Punisher in the second series (“You’re going to kill me now, aren’t you?”) is hysterical. Actually all of it’s hysterical. I miss McDuffie.

You’ve got to love how Superman’s reaction is to try to kill Mini-Supes with Kryptonite. He just lost all his powers, which were transferred to a miniature replica (I’m not sure if he directly controls it or not; the story doesn’t explain well and almost seems to contradict itself on that point) that materializes out of his hand. He cannot explain this AT ALL. And, yet, he’s confident that killing it won’t result in his remaining semi-powerless, or, worse, dying himself.

Also, did anyone else notice that he lost all his powers except invulnerability, but the motion lines and direction of his cape clearly indicate that he is flying down at the baddies’ car when he first discovers this?

I almost wonder sometimes with some of these weird old Superman stories if the writers were trying to one-up each other on the stupid scale without actually getting canned. Either that, or they were just consuming massive amounts of hallucinogens.

If Mini-Superman kills a guy, is it considered murder?

I’m with Adam. If this had been a World’s Finest story it would have been even more awesome.

Superman looks wide

Was it me or was that just bad.

“If Mini-Superman kills a guy, is it considered murder?”

Is it considered murder if Superman kills Mini-Superman? That’s the real question.

Before authorities arrive…a random car drives by?

“Look! Enough Kryptonite to kill Superman!”

“Let’s get it–quick!”

Bwahahahahahaha.

thats not a beard, his shirt is ripped.

See drugs were much better in the 50′s :p

I love the unseen French person speaking accented English after the Eiffel Tower is saved.

Looking at this, it’s easy to see how Marvel was able to kick DC’s ass only a few years later.

“Superman! Thank heavens you’re here! A sudden jolt set off the firing mechanism of this cannon, and it’s jammed! It will go off any second!”

Wow. Just wow. Also, every single car in this story is apparently driving through the middle of a desert.

“Mommy, I want a little Superman!”

Me, I think it’s another weird trip into the strange mind of editor Mort Weisinger. I think Mini-Superman is a metaphor for having kids, and the jealousy of seeing the younger generation succeed as our own powers begin to fail. It’s a ridiculous story, but that doesn’t make it a bad story. How is this any worse than Iron Man – just a handful of years later – fighting aliens named after cheeses – Gouda and Edam? Or the entire Ant-Man/Giant-Man corpus, in which a man the size of an insect has an active fan club?

Mort Weisinger Superman comics are roughly thirty times better than modern superhero comics.

The Eiffel Tower panel slays me every time.

I find this new power of Superman’s no less weird than his “super-breath” which could be super-cold if he desired. As a child this caused me to wonder what would happen when Superman farted…

I wish Grant Morrison had addressed this important subject.

A bunch of crooks just happened to be driving along and just happened to spot enough kryptonite to kill Superman and just happened to have a spare catapult that just happened to be aimed at the direction that Superman was coming from…

Not to mention their pinpoint accuracy with a catapult.

Some crooks are just so darn lucky.

That’s a tubby Superman. “Barrel-chested”? I say tubby.

Did Wayne Boring use the exact same image of Supes to end both pages 5 and 8? How often did that image of Superman jogging through the air show up in the Silver Age?

“It blew up! It must have had a strange power coursing through its hull!”

Either that or it was booby trapped.

But I don’t think it was that, booby traps don’t make you shoot mini-me’s out of your hand.

Weird stories like this are why I like Superman. People say Superman is boring because he has so many powers but the best Superman stories aren’t really about Superman and his powers. They are about weird stuff and impossible situations. That’s the fun of Superman for me. The crazy stories that were made up to explain a crazy cover are the best. “Why is Lois Lane dating Lex Luthor?” “Why is Superman working as a janitor?” or something else weird are the best.

Hugo Sleestak – No, being ridiculous doesn’t make it bad. But in this case, it’s a bad story. Both the acquisition and the disposal of the new power are barely explained and Superman is portrayed as a whiny idiot so desperate for attention that he’s willing to send a potentially sentient life to its death just so he can go back to being the object of hero worship.
For you and McKracken, please, I know this story reminds you of a time when you were younger but you’re just as wrong to not acknowledge that some Silver Age stories are bad as any teenager would be to say the only good comics are the ones where Deadpool fights Wolverine.
I mean, really, McKracken? *This* story is better than Morrison/Quitely’s All-Star Superman or Brubaker’s Captain America or Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier or any number of great runs on Daredevil or … Well, do I need to go on? Why can’t fans just admit that every era had a lot of great books and every era had stories that were churned out to make a deadline?

jccalhoun, I *completely* disagree with you. I can’t stand those Silver Age stories that were obviously reverse-engineered to explain why Caveman Batman is hunting the Super-Kangaroo that used to Superman … or did he…?!?!!?!?
However, isn’t it great that this hobby has so much diversity that a reader can find the kind of story you like and the kind of thing I like?

Calhoun, one of the things I’ve noticed reading the Showcase Presents Superman is that having Clark go to work in some new job (cop, DJ, butler, firefighter) was a regular gimmick.
Another was some plot rationale that requires Superman work in secret (“If they know I’m in the area, they’ll leave before I learn the secret of Project X!”).
Pack, while I would never hold this up as one of comics’ classics (and I agree with you–there’s good Silver Age and bad, like every other era) I really do like it for Superman’s petty reaction to being overshadowed. Obviously, one of the endless YMMV things.

Sorry about the double post.
One of the nice things about the 21st century is that whatever our various tastes, we can slake them. The option to pick up a TPB of Silver Age, Golden Age, Grim-and-Gritty or Arty and Esoteric is fabulous (more so now that I live in a city where the library has a ton of graphic novels and TPBs)

Fraser,
What I would add to that is that the diversity in superhero comic books is one of their endless sorts of appeal to me. My point is that while McKracken seems to be dismissing modern comics, I don’t understand why there aren’t more readers who appreciate that we can like silly Silver Age, heavy-handed relevance in the Bronze Age, decompressed modern stories, etc.? You can love all of this stuff and appreciate that it’s there for whatever mood you happen to be in at that moment. (That’s not directed *at* you. You sound like you already are happy to have a variety of material.)
As for the idea that this story showed us a less than noble side of Superman, I could enjoy that if I thought that’s what they were *trying* to do but I just think it was poorly written. (Because of course, given the way comics worked in the Silver Age, the important thing was just getting back to the status quo so Superman *had to* want to get rid of the power.)
I’ll give credit to Hugo Sleestak. If that’s not the theme they wanted (How we react when our children begin to outdo us.) it sure as hell worked out that way.

McKracken is so right.

I just love the crooks at the beginning. “Sigh… Ok, lets hit him even though it won’t work”.

Pants on head retarded.

My Fingers getting brighter and brighter

“CUTE? What nonsense! Don’t they realize it’s not alive but just a force I materialize in my image which ‘borrows’ *MY* super-powers?”

I know, right? How can they NOT realize that. What are they, a bunch idiots? I don’t know why you bother saving these people with something that’s OBVIOUSLY just a force you materialize in your image which borrows your super-powers.
And just when you think you can get a break, “A fire in the boiler room of that ship! This is a job for Superman’s new power…”
What a frickin’ drag! I mean, there might be lives at risk in that ship, but, geez, can’t they see Superman is dealing with some stuff here!

I was thinking of making a similar joke in the original piece, Pack, but to be fair, Superman did spell out exactly how the mini-Superman worked to the public earlier in the story. But yeah, he does seem silly to be so mad.

Brian, Like Superman, I’m secretly a newspaper reporter. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me to tell me about some news and I’ve had to say, “Yeah, I had a story about that in today’s paper.”
Plus, I guess I was also thinking how annoyed Superman seems to be even though people are allowed to think something is cute even if it’s just a force yadda, yadda, yadda….

I guess it’s a good thing that Kal-El didn’t become Doll Man. Poor guy would have ended up having a stroke!
“Cute? I’m a tiny man in tiny clothes! How is that ‘cute’ to you? Am I a clown to you? Do I amuse you? Do I – Oh, wait, the Joker’s here now, he wants to add something…”

[...] Wait, what? At one point, Superman gained the ability to shoot tiny Supermen from his hands. [...]

[...] I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Superman Gained the Ability to Shoot a Mini-Sup… [...]

“We’ll just >sigh< smash up the car…." WOW, those are the most lackadaisical felons ever. Prepared to commit vehicular homicide at a moment's notice but perfectly blase about the possibility that it will only result in a fiery wreck. Which raises the question, do you even get charged with attempted murder for shooting at Superman? "C'mon, your honor, it was SUPERMAN!" "All right, the charge is reduced to reckless discharge of a firearm. 90 days."

And the fact that Superman straight-up tries to murder his "cute midget" friend with kryptonite is stone cold. "Well, that's his tough luck!" I have to suspect there's something deeper than jealousy fueling that kind of nihilistic hatred. Obviously Superman did some experimenting with his new power and now feels that morning-after shame which has led to many violent deaths.

But the part that really annoys me is that not only does Superman gain a new power – the rich just keep getting richer – but as the geek in the press hat says, it's the one power that would totally make up for losing all of Superman's other powers. That's like handing him a magic lasso, a Green Lantern, and a Dial-H-For-Hero gizmo. Cripes, DC, spread the wealth around a little, why don't you?

For pure WTF-per-panel, I think this story may deserve a gold medal. I am BURNING with curiosity to know what the devil happened at the bottom of Page 6, for instance.

[...] basically defined the genre of superhero, as well as the basic power set (strength, speed, flight, the ability to make a tiny version of yourself do all the work [...]

[...] el paso del tiempo se le añadieron más y más poderes, creando al Hombre de Acero. 10. Superman obtuvo la habilidad de proyectar una pequeña versión de sí mismo. Luego trató de matar al mini Superman al ponerse cada vez más y más celoso de él, pero al [...]

[...] el paso del tiempo se le añadieron más y más poderes, creando al Hombre de Acero. 10. Superman obtuvo la habilidad de proyectar una pequeña versión de sí mismo. Luego trató de matar al mini Superman al ponerse cada vez más y más celoso de él, pero al [...]

[...] 8. In the Superman Comics from 1958, Superman got a new power, the ability to project a mini version of himself that had all of his super powers. Eventually, he became jealous of it and tried to kill it, but it ended up sacrificing itself to save him. – Source [...]

Me, I think it’s another weird trip into the strange mind of editor Mort Weisinger. I think Mini-Superman is a metaphor for having kids, and the jealousy of seeing the younger generation succeed as our own powers begin to fail. It’s a ridiculous story, but that doesn’t make it a bad story. How is this any worse than Iron Man – just a handful of years later – fighting aliens named after cheeses – Gouda and Edam? Or the entire Ant-Man/Giant-Man corpus, in which a man the size of an insect has an active fan club?

No, it’s a bad story. And I don’t see how any of those examples are nearly as bad as this one. Those were standard Silver Age fare, this is just ridiculous, even for its time.

Hugo Sleestak – No, being ridiculous doesn’t make it bad. But in this case, it’s a bad story. Both the acquisition and the disposal of the new power are barely explained and Superman is portrayed as a whiny idiot so desperate for attention that he’s willing to send a potentially sentient life to its death just so he can go back to being the object of hero worship.
For you and McKracken, please, I know this story reminds you of a time when you were younger but you’re just as wrong to not acknowledge that some Silver Age stories are bad as any teenager would be to say the only good comics are the ones where Deadpool fights Wolverine.
I mean, really, McKracken? *This* story is better than Morrison/Quitely’s All-Star Superman or Brubaker’s Captain America or Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier or any number of great runs on Daredevil or … Well, do I need to go on? Why can’t fans just admit that every era had a lot of great books and every era had stories that were churned out to make a deadline?

jccalhoun, I *completely* disagree with you. I can’t stand those Silver Age stories that were obviously reverse-engineered to explain why Caveman Batman is hunting the Super-Kangaroo that used to Superman … or did he…?!?!!?!?

I feel the same way.

Funny, I’ve always liked this one precisely because of Superman’s resentment at becoming sidekick to a little miniature duplicate. An unusually human reaction for those days.

I don’t see how that’s a human reaction. The mini-Superman wasn’t a person but one of his powers, so when people were taking about it they were talking about Supes not about someone else. This jealously is one of those ridiculous and contrived reactions that characters tended to display back then (even if jealously was an unusual emotion for Superman to have), which always made me cringe because it made the characters so unrealistic.

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